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Fishing Group Seeks Loosened Regulations

ANCHORAGE (CN) - A commercial fishing association has accused the government of ignoring its petition to stop state salmon regulations from taking effect before the 2008 salmon season. Those regulations allegedly allow Alaska residents to harvest salmon "to the exclusion of commercial fishermen and non-resident recreational fishermen in the drainages of Cook Inlet," the group claims in Federal Court.

The United Cook Inlet Drift Association (UCIDA) says the proposed regulations on drift-gillnet fishing in Cook Inlet would be a blow to its members' economic viability.

It argues that residents-only salmon fishing violates the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, which establishes national fishing standards.

UCIDA filed an emergency rulemaking petition in 2008, urging the Secretary of Commerce to step in to "protect the commercial fishing industry and the essential fish habitat upon which UCIDA's members and salmon rely."

But the secretary failed to respond, UCIDA claims.

It asks the court to order acting Secretary of Commerce Otto Wolf to "initiate pre-emption proceedings" against the state.

UCIDA is represented by Gregory Gabriel with Baldwin & Butler.

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